Easement question on land purchase.

3 Replies

I preface this question knowing that I need to call my lawyer but I just want to get some feedback before Monday.  So I purchased a 5 acre piece of land that appears to be land locked but has a 25 ft access easement across the adjacent property.  All parties involved in the deal, title attorney, 2 real estate agents, surveyor and bank, all seemed to concur that I had access to my 5 acres through this deeded easement.  Well I have been working with the town trying to get my driveway put in and the head guy at the town said that the plat with my easement was never recorded and that they have a minimum distance of 400 ft between driveways, which my driveway would violate.  He basically is telling me that my property is land locked and basically worthless unless I can buy an easement from my other neighbor to share his driveway.  Anyone have suggestions on what to do?  I did make sure to get the boundaries of my property insured as well as the title chain. But no one is really taking responsibility for this mess its just a bunch of finger pointing.  Thanks for the help!

@Pat Martin

Pat, it doesn't appear that you're "landlocked" and that the attorney and others were correct, you do in fact have "access" (right of ingress and egress) via the deeded easement, however an easement does not transfer ownership (title) to the land affected by the easement. 

Since each state has specific statutory and case law regarding easements, as you already know, you'll likely need some in-depth consultation with a competent attorney. 

Best of luck.

ouch, that's a total bummer.  

Your parcel would be known as the dominant tenement - meaning it benefits from an easement across another parcel - this is a national standard that most municipalities abide by, simply because it's common sense, but people (and cities) do things for reasons not logic.   (remember I said most abide by)

While each city and town can interpret and enforce easements differently, as a land owner you have the right to access your land - but you may not have the right to pour a concrete driveway as local building and development codes would apply.

Hopefully you don't have to go battle the planning or zoning commissions over it. If it were me I would approach the other landowner and try to work something out

You've gotten some good advice from previous posters here, and I agree with them.

I would say while a land use attorney is definitely someone that you may need to talk to, another good person will be a local land use civil engineer and/or surveyor. They are usually the ones that will actually be executing these documents, with the attorney's help in ensuring the legal rights that are/aren't being granted. They will also likely be better at knowing the local issues with actually processing these documents through the city.

A final idea on how you may be able to get this done. When you approach the neighbor, maybe see if he's open to some land swapping. You give up a corner or a strip of land adjacent to his that is equal to the amount of property you need as a strip for your driveway. Since he's now not losing any property just changing the overall shape it may be easier to get him to agree to something like that.

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